Tokyo: Minutes before the skies over Tokyo's Olympic Stadium opened up and interrupted the women's discus throw event, Kamalpreet Kaur had set her sights on making history.
No athlete from India has ever won an Olympic medal in track and field since Independence. Kamalpreet was certain she could.
"I had big dreams about the Olympics," the 25-year-old said after finishing a creditable sixth on Monday. "But since I haven't competed in a lot of international meets, I felt that inexperience affecting my performance. If I had a little more international exposure, maybe I could have done better than I did. I am not at all happy (with my performance). My expectations were that I will throw my personal best. That's 66.59m (thrown in June 2021). If I had thrown that today, I would have gone home with a medal."
The gold medal in the women's discus throw event was won by USA's Valarie Allman (with a 68.98m throw). Silver went to Germany's Kristin Pudenz (66.86m) while Yaime Perez of Cuba took bronze (65.72m).
"I was really nervous today," admitted Kamalpreet. "From the first throw itself, I was nervous. As soon as I started to feel better, it started to rain. That drained my confidence again because I have never performed well in rainy weather."
Kamalpreet said she always performs poorly in wet and rainy situations. She said the challenge for her that prevents her from performing at her best in such conditions is mostly mental. Her heavyset frame, and weight makes her fret that she might slip, fall and pick up a horrible injury while throwing in wet conditions.
In fact, a couple of her opponents suffered the brunt of the conditions on Monday. Portugal's CA Liliana, who finished fifth, had a tumble due to the conditions, while Germany's Marike Steinacker also slipped slightly. Gold medallist Allman had a throw go to waste because the disc slipped out of her hand. The incidents forced the event to be temporarily halted.
"I wanted to do my personal best today. But then it started raining today, and I got nervous," she said before admitting that watching Liliana fall made her even more nervous.
But once the rain stopped as abruptly as it had arrived, she took the disc in her hand and finished sixth with a best throw of 63.70m. Her takeaway was the experience she had lamented she lacked. And the memories.
Her favourite one was when Croatian thrower Sandra Perkovic"who finished fourth on Monday at Tokyo 2020"actually stopped eating a meal to come talk to her and congratulate her in the Games Village.
"She won gold in 2012 and 2016. I am very inspired by her. After I qualified for the final, she left her food and came up to congratulate me. It felt like a dream come true," she said.
Another idol of hers also made contact.
"I'm really inspired by Krishna Poonia. When she qualified for the Olympics in 2012, I wasn't even playing. I started in 2013. When I started, I used to read about her. She messaged me and then called me yesterday to urge me to do well. She told me to win a medal and fulfil her dream. I couldn't do it today, but I am certain I can do it in the future," she said.